Transformers Made in Melbourne

Noel and Millicent Voller started Southern Electronic Services as a partnership in the late 1960s in south-east Melbourne.

Noel had a background in radio communication and worked for Radio Corporation, later known as Astor Radio, for about 20 years. Astor produced domestic radio receivers, or “radios”. Philips took over Astor and continued production at its factories including Clarinda Road, Clayton, and Hendon in South Australia.

From Garage to Factory – Power Transformer Production

During his time at Philips, Noel was involved in transformer production, particularly the high-volume production of transformers for radios and the early “black and white” television sets. He often had requests to make small volumes of transformers, or even “one offs”, but was forced to refuse due to the high-volume production facility at Philips’ Clayton factory. With the blessing of his superiors, Noel starting producing small numbers of transformers in his garage at home.

As demand increased, Noel left Philips and, in partnership with his wife Millicent, set up Southern Electronic Services (SES) in the late ’60s, in Pietro Road, Heatherton. SES grew out of the garage, and moved to a factory in Japaddy Street, Mordialloc, in 1972, with a handful of staff. Scott Renwick started working at SES in 1974, winding transformers during university holidays. He became Production Manager in 1976 and is now the Technical Director (and Managing Director). He has been working at SES for more than 40 years.

Noel and Millicent changed the business from a partnership to a Proprietary Limited Company in July 1977. SES moved to our current premises in Dandenong South at the end of 1989. The new factory in Superior Drive had a sealed floor, white painted walls, hot water, and carpet in the glass-walled office. Things were definitely looking up! This was when we started the “SD” series of part numbers – “Superior Drive”.

Progressive production improvements over subsequent years have included:

  • new winding machines
  • laminating machines
  • air-hydraulic crimping tools
  • rotary stripping machines
  • power files
  • vacuum varnishing
  • pneumatic “nutsert” tools
  • improved lighting
  • pallet racking
  • new work benches and seating.

These advances have enabled us to expand our production capabilities. The installation of electric winches, scissor-lift trolleys and a forklift has taken some of the strain out of the work.

Transformers from Melbourne to Antarctica

With major customers including Siemens Rail Automation (formerly Westinghouse Signals Australia), General Electric International, BAE Systems Australia, Thycon Industries, Trelleborg Marine Systems (formerly Harbour and Marine) and GBC Scientific Instruments, Southern Electronic Services continues to produce power transformer solutions for a wide range of Australian industry. Many of those companies export their products, incorporating our transformers, resulting in SES transformers being used in some 85 countries, including the three Australian research bases in Antarctica.

Isolation Transformer Demand Rises

The demand for small transformers (less than 1KVA) has steadily decreased over recent years, due to many OEMs closing or sourcing cheaper ones from China. To counter this trend, we have increased our range to include isolation transformer manufacture up to 500 KVA. We have plans to build even larger transformers in the coming years.

Twenty years ago, SES considered a 50kg transformer to be large, but now we are regularly shipping transformers weighing more than 1500kg (1.5tonnes). To successfully make the transition, we have invested in more sophisticated test equipment, more lifting apparatus and extensive thermal testing processes. Like all companies, we are not immune to the inevitable ups and downs of business, however, our small niche in the market, catering primarily for short runs and special “one offs”, has continued.

Fast and Competitively Priced

The management and staff at SES continue to be dedicated to the design and manufacture of high-quality transformers at our Melbourne factory. We strive to be competitively priced and deliver to schedule.

To discuss your requirements for Melbourne-made transformers, phone (03) 9706 4202 or contact us online.